In his October 22nd post, Jose Vilson addresses one of the phrases that I have heard many times from my students- "I can't do this!" In many cases, this has become an ingrained belief in my students, coming as the result of being left behind in several of their classrooms throughout the years. Fortunately, Vilson does provide some clues on how to start addressing this problem, many of which I have already used in my instruction.
Perhaps the most valuable insight Vilson provides is focusing on what the student "can" do- assessing at which step of the process the student is having trouble, and providing corrections at that point. However, unlike Vilson, I would not recommend making a protracted conversation out of this- I try to limit "helping" conversations to about 30 seconds at the most. One model I use to accomplish this is Fred Jones' "Praise, Prompt, Leave" strategy, in conjunction with his conceptualization of Visual Instruction Plans. This helps to limit the disruptions that might occur while I am otherwise focused on helping a student.
Another possibility is that offering students "breaks" within reason in an appropriate strategy. By the end of the day, many students have reached their capacity for seat time, and express their frustrations through "I can't do this" or other disruptions. Allowing for small brain breaks has definitely made a difference in my instruction, and helps to keep students more engaged. I would recommend this post to anyone who also hears that phrase in their classroom.
References: Jose Vilson (2013, October 22). The biggest lie students tell me (and how to turn it around). Retrieved from http://www.edutopia.org/blog/students-biggest-lie-resolving-it-jose-vilson